How Best to Revise GI Bill?:

Pentagon officials agreed with lawmakers during a House Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee hearing last week that some changes need to be made to the long-running Montgomery GI Bill. However, they argued that despite the shift of reserve forces from a strategic to an operational reserve, the solution does not lie in creating a Total Force GI bill. They maintain the active duty and reserve elements of the bill must remain separate. In his written testimony, acting DOD reserve affairs chief, Thomas Bush, said that single-program advocates simply view military service “as the pathway to an education benefit, not a program to retain members.” He added that shifting the reserve educational assistance programs to VA administration “neither streamlines nor simplifies the programs. Nor does it fit with the purpose for which these programs were created—recruiting and retention.” Bush did express concern that the Air Force plans to reset and drawdown its air reserve components “could lead to some members losing eligibility to either or both programs.” So, DOD has asked for Congress to renew a provision from the 1990s drawdown era that would enable reservists to retain GI bill eligibility for up to 10 years following separation from the Selected Reserve provided the reason for separating from the Selected Reserve was a result of force-shaping initiatives associated with BRAC action. The Senate version of the 2008 defense policy bill includes such a provision.